Work, Life & Balance : Monta Briant

Monta Briant signing squirrel with her son

Ever wonder how you can balance it all as a mom? This is one interview in a series talking to moms who have found a way to make it work. Meet Monta Briant author and founder of Baby Sign Language Basics and mother to Sirena and Aiden (10 years old and 6 years old respectively).

Desperately wanting to stay home with her first baby, Monta Briant struck upon a novel business idea. She found that everywhere she went, moms wanted her to show them how to use sign language with their babies (a little known practice at the time when Monta started doing it). She began offering formal classes and grew the business over the past 10 years, as her children became more independent, to include a private studio and a series of bestselling books on the topic.

Monta Briant and her child teaching a class to sign language

1. What do you love about being a mom?

The thing I love most about being a mom is seeing my children learn how to do things that I didn’t, like speaking a foreign language or competitive fencing. I also love the hustle and bustle that comes with having kids around – all the school functions, social activities and recreational pursuits. I often wonder what my husband and I used to do before we had kids.

2. What do you enjoy most about working?

I love my job because I know I am giving parents something that is truly life-changing for them and their children. It feels like I’m making my mark on the world.

3. What’s your biggest challenge in juggling both?

Finding things for them to do in the summer, when they are out of school, so that they can have a fun time even if I’m working has been my biggest challenge.

4. How do you deal with it?

Fortunately, my job takes me away from home infrequently and usually it’s to places where I can bring the kids like the library or a children’s museum. When I do have to leave them to teach an adult class, for example, my husband’s schedule is pretty flexible so he can often watch them. Their grandma also lives nearby and has a nice swimming pool to play in so going there is a real treat for them.

When I write books, I put myself on a temporary schedule of early to bed, super early to rise. In other words, I get up at 4 a.m. and write while everyone is asleep. Then I drink a lot of coffee to keep me going throughout the day.

5. How do you re-charge?

Re-charge? What’s that? No, but seriously, my favorite way to reset is to take the dog to the park or beach. I also read a lot before bed and I try to go running in the morning for about 20-30 minutes with the dog.

6. What advice would you give other women considering being a working mom?

If you can, I think going back to work gradually is best. Start by working part-time and then adding more time as your child is away at school for longer periods. I mostly worked weekends and evenings when my kids were babies so my husband could watch them. Then, once they were age two, they started preschool twice a week. At age three, it went to three times per week. At age five, they were in school every day and that made it possible to work a full week. Not everyone has this option, but I was lucky and found a way to make it work. I wracked my brain until I figured out a way to turn a profit doing what I loved to do. It definitely took a couple of years to start making any money.

7. Who inspires you?

My ancestors because they took their destiny into their own hands. Some of them crossed the plains in covered wagons, having babies along the way without any doctors or meds to help. Others came around Cape Horn to San Francisco before the gold rush to start a new life in a new land.

8. What one thing can you not live without? 

Our annual family camping trip to Feather River. We go to a camp where they do all the cooking and washing up for you, so it's actually a real vacation for the parents too. It really recharges my batteries.

9. If you had an hour of time to yourself, how would you spend it? 

Taking the dog for a walk around my neighborhood and shooting the breeze with my neighbors.

Monta briant reading with her son